Friday, December 05, 2008

Automakers Get Their Bailout!

Just saw on MSNBC Rachael Maddow show that the automaker bailout is going to happen. More later.

Bettie Page Hospitalized

Few people in the civilized world have not seen her image, yet most have no idea who she was. Bettie Page, 1950s pinup and fetish model has suffered a heart attack. The 85-year-old had the heart attack Tuesday and was hospitalized Friday in the Los Angeles area.

Her fame has lasted, though Page became a recluse and vanished from the public sight. She had only recently emerged, selling autographs of her photos through her agent.

Her pictures have become icons for the BDSM/Leather/Fetish community and her styles influenced generations.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

KBR Serves Up Tainted Ice To Our Troops!

KBR the scandal ridden subsidiary of Halliburton, that would be Dick Cheney's former employer, has exposed our troops in Iraq to ice tainted with the remains of bodies and medical waste. Sound gross? Yup, and the lawsuit being brought againts them pulls no punches.

From ThinkProgress:

The lawsuit also accuses KBR of shipping ice in mortuary trucks that “still had traces of body fluids and putrefied remains in them when they were loaded with ice. This ice was served to U.S. forces.”

Eller also accuses KBR of failing to maintain a medical incinerator at Joint Base Balad, which has been confirmed by two surgeons in interviews with Military Times about the Balad burn pit. Instead, according to the lawsuit and the physicians, medical waste, such as needles, amputated body parts and bloody bandages were burned in the open-air pit.

Wild dogs in the area raided the burn pit and carried off human remains,” the lawsuit states. “The wild dogs could be seen roaming the base with body parts in their mouths, to the great distress of the U.S. forces.”

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Franken Ahead By Handful of Votes!

The election in Minnesota is coming down to a handful of votes. Today, Al Franken took the lead by a slim margin of 22 votes.

More from Huffington Post:

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Franken's chief counsel Marc Elias said the campaign's own internal count showed them up 22 votes, a jump from the 13 vote deficit that they faced on Tuesday.

"We have approximately 138,000 ballots left to count," said Elias. "94.3 percent of the state has now been counted... Obviously that number is going to change, but we are pleased thus far with how things are going."

Jeb Bush Making Noises About Running For Senate

Just when you thought you had seen the last of the Bush Crime Family, we have stirrings that Jeb, Dubbya's other brother, is planning a run at the Senate. Republican Mel Martinez announced his retirement yesterday as part of an orchestrated move to ease Jeb Bush into his seat.

According to
Since Martinez's announcement Tuesday, Bush has received many phone calls and emails from Floridians and national Republicans urging him to run, the source close to him said Tuesday night.

Bush has kept a low-profile since leaving office in 2007, but he retains a strong following among Florida Republicans and would almost certainly clear the Republican field should he decide to run.

But he's in no hurry to decide, said a top adviser, and won't make a decision until after the new year.
In "GOP speak", this means only one thing, he is running! Unfortunately, the fine citizens of Florida may not have sense enough to keep Jeb from getting back on the horse and heading to the Senate. Look for talk of "Jeb 2012" during the next Presidential cycle.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thai Courts Rule - Prime Minister Resigns!

It is a familiar story, a high court rules and the leadership of a country is changed. Not here for a pleasant change, but in Thailand. There amid the daily protests by citizens, the prime minister and the three ruling parties have been declared illegal by the country's high court. The decision triggered dancing in the streets in some areas.

From the AP:
Thailand's prime minister resigned on Tuesday after weeks of protests that paralyzed his government and closed the capital's airports. Cargo flights resumed and protesters promised to lift their siege by Wednesday.

The resignation of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat came after the nation's Constitutional Court dissolved Thailand's top three ruling parties for electoral fraud and banned him from politics for five years.

Somchai, who has been forced to govern from the northern city of Chiang Mai since Wednesday, accepted the ruling with equanimity.

"It is not a problem. I was not working for myself. Now I will be a full-time citizen," he told reporters in Chiang Mai.

Let's hope Thailand can return to sanity and peace.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Some Thoughts On World AIDS Day

Twenty years ago at a summit of health ministers from around the world, they decided to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS by declaring December 1 as World AIDS Day. Since that time much progress has been made on AIDS treatment but so far no cure has been found.

That is an important thing to remember. Especially in light of a recent report. The report, released just ahead of World AIDS Day on Monday, found while Massachusetts has had success battling the spread of the disease among injection drug users and heterosexual men and women, it has had less success among gay and bisexual men. More than 50% of new HIV infections between 2004 and 2006 were among gay and bisexual men.

This is amazing to me. The gay and bisexual communities have been living with the problems of AIDS for longer than anyone else. We know how to prevent the disease and yet we are still getting infected at a higher rate. What is going wrong?

Well as I have been reading an interesting book on "The Science of Fear" in which the author notes that people make decisions based on either their "gut" or their "head". Our "head" or intellect knows how to protect ourselves, but our "gut" emotions tell us "unprotected sex feels good". Irrationally, we conclude if it feels good it can't be bad and we shut off our brains.

How can we change this? Well it will not be easy, but it worked when the epidemic first started and it can work now. We need to hammer the message home that unprotected sex is not only wrong, but not as much fun. Because our fear of AIDS used to be stronger, unprotected sex felt risky and not as good. Today, with the insane barrage of "bareback" videos and websites, we are being convinced that unprotected sex is "better". We need to de-eroticise it and start eroticizing safer-sex before we fall victim to another wave of AIDS deaths.

Am I a killjoy? Hell no, just someone who wants his friends to be around for a long time so we can grow old together.

Here's my suggestion, start eroticising safer-sex. Next time you choose a video, make sure it's safe sex only. Next time you masturbate, wear a condom. If you do it often enough, you will come to associate the condom with sexual pleasure and half the battle will be won.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why We Fight? For $100 Hit Men & Honor Killings?

Iraq is a country of contrasts. It is at once a modern emerging Middle Eastern nation and at times a throw back to the Middle Ages. Take the booming business of Honor Killings in Basra. The local authorities say the have no control over these paid assassinations that often target young women.

For as little as $100 you can hire a killer to defend your family's honor by assassinating an unfaithful wife, or a disobedient daughter. So far this year, 81 women in the city have been murdered for allegedly bringing shame on their families. Only five people have been convicted. In some cases the police have even been reported to have congratulated the man hiring the killer!

The story is tragic and really shows the gulf between East and West. It should also give pause to anyone who believes they really understand the situation on the ground in Iraq. I seriously doubt anyone does.

NPR Journalist Escapes Car Bombing In Iraq

One of the great things about NPR reporting is how they go beyond the surface and actually do some "reporting". I especially have liked the stories NPR has brought from Iraq. Behind the PR of the US occupation force and the Iraqi government there are often poignant and disturbing tales of what Iraq is like now.

That "real Iraq" was hammered home to NPR correspondent Ivan Watson and his colleagues yesterday when their armored BMW was destroyed by a "sticky bomb" planted by a terrorist.
Luckily the NPR crew was warned away from the car at the last moment by Iraqi soldiers who had received a tip that the reporters would be targeted.

The car was blown up in Rabiye Street, once a bustling commercial street filled with boutiques and cafes. The crew had been doing an interview with a Kebab shop owner just prior to the explosion.

What this incident does is make abundantly clear that Iraq is still in a state of chaos, despite the years of our occupation and the work by the Iraqi authorities. Life there is far from normal, no matter what Dick Cheney and George Bush say. I also suspect the target of the attack was specifically intended to harm American journalists, reinforcing my belief that our presence is doing more harm than good right now.

I expect we will hear more from Ivan Watson on this incident on NPR soon.